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Eighth Route Army
Eighth Route Army fighting on the Futuyu Great Wall, Laiyuan, Hebei, 1938. Photograph by Sha Fei.
Country China
Allegiance Chinese Communist Party
Branch National Revolutionary Army
TypeRoute Army
Part ofCPC Central Military Commission
Nationalist Government Military Affairs Commission
Garrison/HQShanxi and Shaanxi
ColorsGrey and White Uniform
MarchMilitary Anthem of the Eighth Route Army
EngagementsSecond Sino-Japanese War, Chinese Civil War
CommanderZhu De
Deputy CommanderPeng Dehuai
Arm badge, as Eighth Route Army
Arm badge, as 18th Group Army
Flag, as 18th Group Army
In July 1937, the Presidium of the Central Military Commission of the Chinese Communist Party issued an order for the Chinese Red Army to reorganize into the National Revolutionary Army and stand by for the anti-Japanese front line.
Former site of the Eighth Route Army Office in Guilin.

The Eighth Route Army (simplified Chinese: 八路军; traditional Chinese: 八路軍; pinyin: Bālù-Jūn), officially known as the 18th Group Army of the National Revolutionary Army of the Republic of China, was a group army under the command of the Chinese Communist Party, nominally within the structure of the Chinese military headed by the Chinese Nationalist Party during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The Eighth Route Army was created from the Chinese Red Army on September 22, 1937, when the Chinese Communists and Chinese Nationalists formed the Second United Front against Japan at the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War, as the Chinese theater was known in World War II. Together with the New Fourth Army, the Eighth Route Army formed the main Communist fighting force during the war and was commanded by Communist party leader Mao Zedong and general Zhu De. Though officially designated the 18th Group Army by the Nationalists, the unit was referred to by the Chinese Communists and Japanese military as the Eighth Route Army. The Eighth Route Army wore Nationalist uniforms and flew the flag of the Republic of China and waged mostly guerrilla war against the Japanese, collaborationist forces and, later in the war, other Nationalist forces. The unit was renamed the People's Liberation Army in 1947, after the end of World War II, as the Chinese Communists and Nationalists resumed the Chinese Civil War.


Chinese propaganda poster depicting the Eighth Route Army in Shanxi.

The Eighth Route Army consisted of three divisions (the 115th, which was commanded by Lin Biao, the 120th under He Long, and the 129th under Liu Bocheng). During World War II, the Eighth Route Army operated mostly in North China, infiltrating behind Japanese lines, to establish guerrilla bases in rural and remote areas. The main units of the Eighth Route Army were aided by local militias organized from the peasantry.

After its fall 1938 victory in the Battle of Wuhan, Japan advanced deep into Communist territory and redeployed 50,000 troops to the Shanxi-Chahar-Hebei Border Region.[1]: 122  Elements of the Eighth Route Army soon attacked the advancing Japanese, inflicting between 3,000 and 5,000 casualties and resulting in a Japanese retreat.[1]: 122 

The Communist Party's liaison offices in cities under Nationalist control such as Chongqing, Guilin and Dihua (Ürümqi) were called Eighth Route Army Offices.

Ethnic Koreans who fought in the Eighth Route Army later joined the Korean People's Army.

In the Yan'an base area in September 1938, the Eighth Route Army established its first film group.[2]: 69 



In August 1937, the Eighth Route Army had three divisions.

Division Commander Order of battle Commander Troop strength
115th Division Lin Biao 343th Brigade Chen Guang 15,000
344th Brigade Xu Haidong
Independent Regiment Yang Chengwu
120th Division He Long 358th Brigade Lu Dongsheng 14,000
359th Brigade Chen Bojun
Teaching Regiment Peng Shaohui
129th Division Liu Bocheng 385th Brigade Wang Hongkun 13,000
386th Brigade Chen Geng
Teaching Regiment Zhang Xian (张贤)


In Winter 1940 the Eighth Route Army had increased to 400,000 soldiers.

Division Commander Order of battle Commander Troop strength
115th Division Chen Guang 1st Teaching Brigade Peng Mingzhi 70,000
2nd Teaching Brigade Zeng Guohua [zh]
3rd Teaching Brigade
Western Shandong Military Region
Yang Yong
4th Teaching Brigade
Western Lake Military Region
Deng Keming [zh]
5th Teaching Brigade Liang Xingchu
6th Teaching Brigade
Shandong and Hebei Military Region
Xing Renfu [zh]
Southern Shandong Military Region Zhang Guangzhong [zh]
Shandong Column Zhang Jingwu 1st Brigade Wang Jian'an 51,000
2nd Brigade Sun Jixian [zh]
3rd Brigade Xu Shiyou
5th Brigade Wu Kehua [zh]
1st Detachment Hu Qicai [zh]
4th Detachment Zhao Jie [zh]
5th Detachment Wang Bin (王彬)
120th Division
Western and Northern Shanxi Military Region
He Long 1st Independent Brigade
4th Military Subarea
Gao Shiyi (高士一) 51,000
2nd Independent Brigade
2nd Military Subarea
Peng Shaohui
358th Brigade
3rd Military Subarea
Zhang Zongxun
2nd Shanxi Youth Column
8th Military Subarea
Han Jun [zh]
Cavalry Detachment Yao Zhe
129th Division Liu Bocheng Taihang Mountain Military Subarea Liu Bocheng 56,000
386th Brigade
Taiyue Mountain Military Subarea
Chen Geng
Southern Hebei Military Subarea Chen Zaidao
Shanxi, Hebei and Chahaer Military Region Nie Rongzhen 1st Military Subarea Yang Chengwu 100,000
2nd Military Subarea Guo Tianmin
3rd Military Subarea Huang Yongsheng
4th Military Subarea Xiong Botao [zh]
5th Military Subarea Deng Hua
3rd Column
Middle Hebei Military Region
Lv Zhengcao
Advanced Detachment Xiao Ke
Shaanxi Left Behind Corps Xiao Jinguang 385th Brigade Wang Weizhou [zh] 22,600
359th Brigade Wang Zhen
1st Security Brigade Wen Niansheng [zh]
Security Command Gao Gang
Others 2nd Column
Hebei, Shandong and Henan Military Region
Yang Dezhi 50,000
4th Column Peng Xuefeng
5th Column Huang Kecheng

See also


  1. ^ a b Opper, Marc (2020). People's Wars in China, Malaya, and Vietnam. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. doi:10.3998/mpub.11413902. ISBN 978-0-472-90125-8. JSTOR 10.3998/mpub.11413902.
  2. ^ Li, Jie (2023). Cinematic Guerillas: Propaganda, Projectionists, and Audiences in Socialist China. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231206273.
Preceded byChinese Red Army Armed Wing of the Chinese Communist Party 25 August 1937-1 November 1948 with New Fourth Army12 October 1937-1 November 1948 Succeeded byPeople's Liberation Army